Movie Reviews 194 – The Book of Eli (2010)

The Book of EliDenzel Washington and Mila Kunis don’t immediately spring to mind when deciding which stars would be good candidates for a post apocalyptic science fiction yarn, but the story of The Book of Eli is itself about as quirky as the cast selection.

We never really find out what happened to the Earth that resulted in its transformation to a dusty, barren wasteland with only the odd small town or isolated household still clinging to life. But Eli (Washington) is a peaceful man on a divine mission to ‘go west’ no matter what, and any attempts to stop or delay his goal quickly turns the reserved man into a lightening quick, knife wielding samurai who will at least nicely warn his aggressors once before slicing and dicing them in a heartbeat. Among his few possessions is a book that we soon learn is the main reason for his obscure mission.

Eli’s problem arises when he hits a dilapidated town run by Carnegie (Gary Oldman) who not only himself has a penchant for books but has gangs scouring the earth for one book in particular. It is of course ‘the good book’ and it is of course the book that Eli is toting with his possessions.

But hang on. This isn’t an overzealous religion spouting one act pony of a movie. The obvious battles between Eli and Carnegie and his henchmen is interspersed with encounters with a number of other seedy, low-life gangs that roam the wild. Meanwhile, Eli reluctantly takes on a fellow traveler in Solara (Kunis) the rebel daughter of Carnegie’s current woman (played by Jennifer Beals). And before you go there, this isn’t a nouveau Adam and Eve story either.

There is a lot of silly stuff to suck up along the way, like what does Carnegie really expect from having the last bible in his possession, or to whom Eli is supposed to deliver it? But there is a lot of fun (and blood spurting) too in the barren world where people barter for water (remember Waterworld?) and where ‘traps’ are set out for wanderers, all reminiscent of Mad Max and other parched Earth movies.

While much of the movie is a predictable as are most biblical fables, the film does deliver in the end with a few walloping surprises that seem so obvious but only after the ‘reveal’. Not the best post-apocalyptic movie (there are so many) but better than I expected.

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